Tuesday, September 4, 2012

photographic evidence of how i spent my summer

it all started with strawberries and for some reason late may/early june seems like a really long time ago.

these strawbs became a strawberry balsamic jam. YUM! i have several quarts of berries in the freezer still so i'll be doing that flavor again once the garden slows down.



our tomatillo plants are killin' it in the garden. easy peasy tomatillo preservation - roast 'em with some poblanos or jalapenos, a little onion, and some olive oil. then pulse the roasted veggies along with some fresh cilantro in your food processer and freeze in 2-4 cup increments. this will be a great base for winter salsas, chili verdes, and other tasty meals.





this summer i am really into small batch jams.
my usual ratio is about 2 - 2 1/2 lbs. fruit to 1 lb. sugar.



my cheapo big lots paula deen scale needs to go. i mention that i need a fancy new digital kitchen scale at least once a week. i hope bartman is picking up on this. i also drop hints about this too but i think my chances are better with the kitchen scale.

my mother-in-law and i have a booth again this year at our local farmers' market and i love it. love, love, love going every saturday and chatting with customers and fellow vendors and of course spending the majority of our profits. my jams have been selling really well despite the fact that i raised my prices a bit (more fruit and less sugar equals more costs on my end but a superior product is worth it!). i was "crunching some numbers" the other night and i have made well over 300 jars of jam since june. holy cow!

some of the fruits and flavors i've been working on include:

blackberry basil



blueberry.
if you live in northeast ohio you should probably check out vytko farms. great berries. and cheap. and tons of them!



peach and black raspberry.
the peaches in NE ohio are amazing this year. like the best i've ever had. i have probably bought over 50lbs of peaches this summer. jams, cobblers, freezer, snacks. delicious.



peach honey spread. mmm.....



peach jalapeno
notice that little packet? that is a sachet of HEAT! my first round of peach jalapeno wasn't too spicy and some of my customers asked for more heat. for the second round i used 4 jalapenos (2lbs peaches) and i made a little cheesecloth sachet full of jalapeno ribs and seeds. this one is WAY spicier. whew!



pepper jam
our pepper plants are LOADED. i can't even remotely keep up. i've pickled tons. made stuffed peppers. frozen some. jammed some. and we have more. lots, lots more.



raspberries were great this year - especially black raspberries. i picked a ton. i did several different jams and i also froze quite a bit.



roasted tomatoes. or the lazy woman's process for canning tomatoes.







core and cut tomatoes. add them to a roasting pan with some olive oil. if you're feeling like doing additional work add onions, garlic, and fresh herbs. roast it for a couple of hours, put it through the food mill, and voila! roasted tomato base. i've canned several quarts and this winter it will be the base for soups, stews, chilis, sauces, etc., etc.

i've also done a couple batches of tomato jam. i had great success with these little yellow bell cherry tomatoes. i turned them into a tomato & ginger jam which was really tasty.



and here is my spicy red tomato jam.



i ordered 20 lbs of pitted sour cherries.



i've made cobblers and sauces and i froze a bunch. i also made cherry jelly from the juice and my favorite thing - sour cherry and mint preserves. mmm. so good.



i still have loads of berries in the freezer so i'll be making jam well into winter. right now i am pretty consumed with peppers - pickling, freezing, and otherwise preserving what has been a serious bumper crop. i messed around with some pickling brines and think i have just about perfected my sweet/hot pepper brine. we did 7 quarts last night and i'll be heading home to several more quarts worth after work.

I also have the ass end of the tomatoes to deal with and i'm hoping to can some crushed romas this week.

basically my life revolves around food preservation and even though i've slowed down a bit i'm sure i'll be canning 4-5 nights a week for at least the next 3 weeks. i'll admit i'm exhausted but this winter when i make chili from my own tomatoes and peppers or crack open a jar of pickles and a cold beer it will all be worth it.

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